U.N. refugee agency's Darfur permits not renewed

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The U.N. refugee agency said Tuesday it will cut its workload in Sudan's Darfur region after permits for more than half its international staff there were not renewed.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Darfur will be reduced from 37 staff members to 17 who still have permits.

Since 2003 Darfur has been part of a conflict between local rebel tribes and Khartoum, resulting in 300,000 deaths and 1.8 million displaced persons, according to the U.N.

The situation is particularly critical in El Fasher where none of the UNHCR staff was granted a permit to return and the remaining staff members were "asked to leave at short notice in early July," the statement said.

U.N. resident and humanitarian coordinator Ali Al-Za'tari and UNHCR representative Kai Nielsen called on the Sudanese government "to renew the permits for all the UNHCR staff so as to allow UNHCR to fully resume its activities in Darfur."

The two "regret that humanitarian activities for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Darfur have had to be scaled down."

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